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A year ago, I took a job as a software consultant, and was asked to move from Chicago to Phoenix.

I've had an astounding year, and have received a lot of praise and acknowledgement for my work as I've been here.

However, as someone who's in their very early 20's, I feel somewhat isolated. I don't have a personal life out here, and in the year that I've been here, I've made no friends outside of work. The people I do know at work are all twice my age.

On the other hand, there are many people I know and love back in Chicago, and I can't help but think that I'd be much happier back there.

The work that I do could all be done remotely - In fact, the actual work, or development, is all done via remote desktop connection and/or VPN connection to a customer's external system anyways.

I work in a small office with 2-3 other people (some of the office members travel occasionally, so it's frequently not filled with everyone), who usually rely on me for troubleshooting / knowledge support when they run into technical issues or roadblocks on the platform that we work with. This is both a good thing for them, as it helps them work more efficiently, and a slight negative for me as it makes me less productive at handling my own work.

If I were to work remotely and move back, they would still be able to ask me for the same help, via Skype for Business and/or other communications tools we have, but I may not be able to respond to them as quickly as in person (Something I'm fine with but that my manager may consider a negative thing).

My question is: How should I approach the subject of asking my manager if I can move back to Chicago?

I am considering telling him that it is not working out for me, personally, and that I'm just not happy here. I feel that I could be just as productive working remotely, but that it would work out for me a lot more, and would free up a space in the office (we have multiple offices, the one i'm in we're trying to add a few resources to, but we will need to buy a larger office soon as we're running out of space).

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My opinion:

Work this subject into regular conversations with your boss about career development. I meet with my boss bi-weekly to discuss advancement/performance/happiness/ etc. Hopefully, you are already meeting with her/him occasionally to talk about things. In this conversation, I would approach it like this:

"Boss, I've really enjoyed the work I am doing out here as well as working for the company, but I miss my family and friends. I am considering moving back to be closer to them. I'd prefer to continue to work on project X with the company, but I don't see myself living in Arizona in (y) years."

Obviously, (y) years is up to you, and shouldn't be a hard number unless you are prepared to look for another job -- work with your company to come up with a plan that makes sense.

I would not broach the pros and cons of working remotely. Your boss likely already has an opinion on the merits and downfalls of it.

It may be that she/he offers to help you transition into a different role with the company in Chicago. Perhaps she/he will suggest working remotely. Or it may be that she/he wants you to stay in Phoenix forever, in which case you'll have to make the decision on whether you're willing to stay.

When I was in a similar situation (I was travelling, not relocated), I asked to be moved off the project because weekly cross country trips were really eating into my social life. They asked me to stay on the project for another 6 months and gave me a nice raise to compensate for it. When those six months ended, they wanted me to stay longer but by then I had made up my mind that I would quit if I needed to keep travelling. I told my boss this, he wasn't ready to lose me so they switched me to a different project.

It sounds like you are prepared to move back to Chicago either way; if you really want to continue working for your current company you need to explain to your boss that you want to move back and let him/her decide what the next steps are.

Good luck.

  • This is more or less how I feel. I think I will be moving back, maybe in 6 months, regardless of whether I'm working here or not. I'll let them know that I want to move back to the chicago area, and would prefer to still be working here, but understand if that wouldn't work for them. – anon Mar 17 '17 at 16:30
  • @schizoid04 my advice there -- be flexible with the six months. If they offered you a good opportunity to move back but made you wait a bit longer, it's probably okay to do so. Especially since the fun part of chicago is May to September (at least in my 20-something experience). Whats the worst to come from spending a couple extra months in the warmth? – USER_8675309 Mar 17 '17 at 16:32
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Allowing someone to move back across the country is a huge step to take for an employer. If you can demonstrate that the work can be done remotely (do you work remotely at all now) that will help your case.

Some things to consider:

  1. Is there ANY work that you have to be in the office for or on-site for? That will have the travel costs associated with it if you need to come back.

  2. Equipment: Will you connect into a computer with your own computer or would you bring company equipment back to Chicago with you. What about the costs of other office equipment that you might need to include a printer/copier, etc.

  3. Time Zone: Chicago is either 1 or 2 hours different from Arizona, so if they expect you to currently work from 8am - 5pm that could shift your hours from 10am - 7pm. Maybe not a big deal but it can effect meetings and such.

As a side note - I guarantee that there are people your age to hang out with in Phoenix, there's colleges, bars, golf courses, etc... How much have you tried to get out and meet people? Maybe try to look up some local Facebook groups for activities that you enjoy.

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    You have good points. Mine was I haven't been able to effectively establish any sort of social life out here, given my current lifestyle (I'm an introvert that works 60 hours per week), and I don't see that changing. There's no work that I need to be in the office for. We do have others that work remotely but have always been remote. I currently have a work PC, that I expect to bring with me. I don't need any other equipment. There is a time difference. work is not time-sensitive; there's little interaction between any two of us in the company, so time zones have come to have little impact. – anon Mar 17 '17 at 16:27
  • Sounds like you have a good base to start the discussion with your boss, especially since other employees are currently working remotely. Pretty much at this point the worst he will say is "no" or "it's not an option now" and you're no worse off than you currently are. Another thing to consider as well though is that your salary is going to effectively be a lot less in Chicago as compared to being in Phoenix. – Pork Pants Mar 17 '17 at 16:30
  • Well, I use the word Chicago loosely. I used to live an hour south of Chicago. The cost of living for me now has a bit greater than the cost of living was where I was previously living, as right now i'm living directly in the city, and previously I was living in the suburbs. – anon Mar 17 '17 at 17:21
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I've done this with 3 out of my last 4 jobs. I was stressed-out during the process, but I look back on it and laugh (time can heal wounds). Each time I was really the only employee working from home, so I was never sure. In my case, I told my manager(s) I was moving and suggested working remotely. You should try and create a trial-period.

Most things in life and work are about risk. Ask if you can do it for one to two weeks as a trial period while living in Phoenix. You want to make sure your boss and coworkers are capable of handling things as you suggest. Also, take special care of clients during this period.

Meet with your boss to review, make adjustments along with a transition plan to moving permanently if you feel you're ready. Hopefully, there is enough of a reason to off-set any setbacks by having you work remotely with having to replace you. Just let your boss know it's more about your personal life and how you're willing to make the adjustments necessary to still be effective at your job. That's all anyone can ask.

Beware with some companies, having employees in other states can present tax and possibly insurance concerns. Good luck.

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